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  • Writer's pictureKate Talbot

Instagram Stories: How Brands are Authentically Flexing for the Gram

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

Marketing is constantly evolving and embracing technological advancements in big data, AI, ad targeting, and much more. However, the biggest breakthrough in the past year that illustrates the importance of marketing innovation and competition is Instagram Stories.

As a social media and content marketer focused on millennial marketing tools like Instagram, influencer marketing, and Snapchat (I even wrote a book on it!), I believe Instagram Stories has altered Snapchat’s long-term growth strategy. Use of Snapchat decreased significantly after the launch of Instagram Stories, suggesting that Instagram effectively captured the market share Snapchat left on the table with their confusing user design and limited expansion into the emerging markets.. In fact, 60% of Instagram users now use stories.

Mobile apps like WhatsApp, Skype, LinkedIn, and Facebook Messenger have even followed suit by adding the concept of stories to their repertoire.

What Instagram was able to do with the stories feature was create another advertising revenue stream and invest heavily in the concept of ephemeral content storytelling. Before this, Instagram’s focus was on curated content that gathered the most likes and views. With the advent of Instagram Stories, brands, celebrities, and influencers alike could share more authentic components and feature behind-the-scenes content that attracts engagement.

It’s easy to see how social media “stories” features provide a whole new experience for users and followers alike. Influencer Claudia Oshry Soffer, whose handle is @GirlWithNoJob, uses Instagram Stories daily to highlight celebrities appearing on her podcast, talk about her favorite television shows (which are usually ad-sponsored content), encourage fans to buy tickets to her meet-and-greets by swiping up, and provide peeks into the parties she attends. This is in comparison to her Instagram grid, which is mainly static photos and memes.

Even though Snapchat has these capabilities, Instagram’s more intuitive design enabled users with large followings—and also those without—to seamlessly transition between posting images and videos to creating and sharing real-time stories about their daily lives.

This is a huge competitive advantage, as discoverability on Snapchat has been one of their weaknesses. Now, celebrities and influencers are increasingly creating ephemeral content only on Instagram, leaving Snapchat behind.

The growth of Instagram Stories and how users are now consuming content in short moments that disappear within 24 hours has changed how large brands and startups are crafting their content and marketing strategies. Social media advertising now features videos that have native elements to stories, like face filters, text on the screen, geolocation, and calls-to-action to swipe up.

VP of Brand and Creative Director at Gametime, Jon Gordon, has tested numerous social ads and learned what best optimized for conversions and downloads. “When it comes to live-action, ads that feel user-generated in nature tend to resonate with social viewers much more strongly than the polished spots we see on other mediums like television. Users immediately know when they see something that doesn’t feel organic to their social platform. If it looks like an ad, they tend to swipe over it.”

With the mass adoption of this new form of storytelling, Instagram Stories has changed how we create and consume content in the digital age.

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